If you haven’t heard yet then it is my extreme displeasure to inform you that Blank Slate Brewing Company has closed, effective immediately.
This news came as a shock to everyone I know. Jesse Folk noticed that Blank Slate’s Facebook page was gone. Then I checked Twitter and Instagram, both also gone. At that time their web page still said that it was being refreshed, as it’s said for a few weeks now. My first thought was that there had been a hack.
It wasn’t until a few hours later that I heard rumors, and then absolute confirmation, that Blank Slate was closing. No, not closing, closed. Period. Effective Immediately.
As of this time, 10 am Tuesday morning on August 8th, 2017, I have seen no official word from Blank Slate or its owner Scott LaFollette on the reason for the closing. We can all make guesses and assumptions, but no one should. Either Scott will say something eventually or we’ll never know, the bottom line is that Cincinnati has lost a treasured brewery.
But I don’t want to spend this time talking about that. I want to talk about what’s on their web page, the second part, “Thanks for the memories.”
Thanks For The Memories
People love to ask me “What’s your favorite beer?” or “Who is your favorite brewery?” My favorite beer has waxed and waned over time, but that second question hasn’t faltered. Without doubt or hesitation, it has been Blank Slate. It still is Blank Slate. For the immediate future, it will be Blank Slate. Not just because of the high quality of the beer, especially Fork In The Road, but also because of the owner and head brewer, Scott LaFollette.
I’ve written about local beer for around five years now. Scott was one of the first brewers I reached out to, way back in the fall of 2012. I remember being stupidly nervous. I knew how much I enjoyed his beer, I was afraid I’d make an ass of myself or be too much of a fanboy or something. Luckily, he was great to talk to and we had the first of many fantastic conversations.
Scott never hesitated to speak what was on his mind. I’ve been lucky enough to talk to many brewers and owners over the years. You can tell when they pause to mentally edit their words before speaking. Scott never did that with me. I learned so much about the good, the bad, the ins, and the outs, of the brewing industry from him. You’d be shocked to know how many breweries and bars are bending or breaking the law, though that’s mostly because the laws are stupid.
And that’s one of those things about Scott. He never bent those rules, even in the slightest, even when everyone else did. He never sacrificed on quality or people, ownership or integrity. He did things his way. Maybe, that way wasn’t the best for business, but it was the best for the beer.
Blank Slate opened before the local craft beer wave really began, but also before tap rooms were affordable in Ohio. Once they were, Blank Slate was slow to get their taproom setup. But once they did they quickly became one of my favorite taprooms to visit. Moderate crowd, beautiful bar, quick service, happy beertenders, incredible quality. Sure the parking wasn’t great, but how many breweries have parking that doesn’t suck? And if the only thing to complain about is brewery parking than that’s a pretty damn good place.
If you have any memories you want to share of great times at Blank Slate, drinking their beer, or hanging out with Scott then drop a comment here, on our Facebook page, or shoot me an email at Tom@BrewMinds.com. Maybe Scott will read them one day and hopefully, they’ll bring a smile to his face.
Dan Ebben, Owner of Swine City Brewing
In 2013 when we had no damn clue what it would take to get started we reached out to Scott about his old tanks. He was extremely helpful to us, everything from trench drains(and not digging them yourself) to when not to repurpose dairy equipment. He spelled out his mistakes plainly so no one had to endure them as well. I spoke with a few other local brewery owners and his helpful nature is widespread through our community. He is the independent craft brewer that I hope to be a tenth of in the future.
Jason Brewer, Listermann/Triple Digit General Manager
It’s taken me a while to put my feelings into words. Scott has been a great friend to the brewery since he started. We are two breweries that have always been the underdog so have shared a lot of common bumps along the way. We have collaborated on more beers together than I can even remember. He is always willing to put down what he is doing to answer any/all questions someone would have about beer. The beer industry has lost a true gem and shining light of innovation. While the Blank Slate glass may always be empty, our memories will certainly not be.
Photos from MadTree Owner, Kenny McNutt
Mike Stokes, Cincy Brew Bus Owner
I met Scott in 2013 when we started the Brew Bus, I could not believe how honest he was about everything. His approach to beer was unlike anyone else’s and so was his attitude. There was never a time where he wasn’t honest and upfront with me. When we took folks to Blank Slate it was like a light-bulb went off in their brain. They couldn’t believe the beers that were being made and how they tasted and seemingly always asked where they could get it. I stopped in last year on a Sunday during the Anniversary Weekend and I had about 100 questions for Scott and he spent the next hour with me, walking the brewery answering every question and showing me where they started to where they were, and where they were going to be, in the middle of a party. Great guy, great product, great staff, we are going to miss our time there.
Kevin Moreland, Brewer at Woodburn Brewery
I wanted to send out some pics of some of the great times and memories I had with a friend, mentor, and brother. We had long talks along the way about life, business, and beer. No one has ever done it the way you have. Know one respects the craft the way you do. No one is a better guy in the industry than you Scott. I wish nothing but the best for you and your family.
Mike Dewey, Owner of Mt. Carmel
No one worked harder, contributed more or was more hospitable.
Rick Armon, Writer for the Akron-Beacon Journal
I always appreciated Scott’s honesty or bluntness — or however you want to put it — when he would write blog items. The posts that he made before opening the brewery were not only entertaining but educational and should be a must-read for anybody getting into the industry.That said, he was an excellent brewer and I’m disappointed that I won’t get another taste of Shroominous, Fume and so many of his other tasty creations. I thought so highly of Shroominous, a brown ale made with shiitake mushrooms, that it’s featured in my new book 50 Must-Try Craft Beers of Ohio. With Blank Slate’s closing, it’s sad to realize that craft beer fans won’t get a chance to taste that special brew.
Anonymous Local Brewer
A few years ago a co-worker, one of our brewers moved away. Adam (Pops) is a terrific brewer and had made a lot of friends in the industry. A farewell party was organized and attended by brewers, cellarmen, and packaging techs from 10 other breweries. We all met at Blank Slate for the party. We didn’t meet there because it was “neutral ground,” or because it was the closest to Pops, or because it had the most central location. We met there because it was the source for the best beer in the city, and Scott’s work had earned the respect of so many within the industry.
Blank Slate meant so much to a lot of people. Scott is a tremendous brewer, he was always making truly exceptional beer, and he has the respect of anyone that ever met him and tried his beer.On the off chance Scott and the rest of the Blank Slate family don’t realize what they meant to us, and the respect they earned from the industry, hopefully, they’ll see this and know.
My name is Jennifer Mayhall and I am a huge fan. We probably have seen each other at Blank Slate – it was my favorite for a number of reasons. I was one of the recent four winners of the Beer Shelf program at Blank Slate and the tie breaker was to write a toast with the prompt: Why I Love Blank Slate. Our toasts were to be delivered, Friday, August 11 with our written toast being due to Allison on August 2. I wrote a poem that I want to share. It goes like this:
A Love Letter to Blank Slate
If I should ever own a brewery I would surround myself with the best of brewers and bartenders and
I would make the best beer using the best ingredients and know every flavor twist to tease the taste buds of the most seasoned taster and I would make seasonal pours alongside steady pours for you to enjoy with the person sitting next to you
If I should ever own a brewery I would welcome with open arms all who enter and be “family” with our regulars and I would make my place a haven where you could come alone yet be amongst friends and I would create a platform of love and laughter by way of blackboards in the bathrooms
If I should ever own a brewery I would devote a day for giving back, call it One Day Sunday, and invite you to join me so we can do good together and I would hold a contest for the opportunity to work with YOU to create a bold new brew and hold a “toast-off” as a tie breaker for the FOUR winners
If I should ever own a brewery I would celebrate with you when you drink the first and last of the Opera Cream and would be grateful when you offer us the best hashtag and show up to promote our beer and I would pay your tab because you received unexpected news
If I should ever own a brewery I would call it BLANK SLATE to remind me that every day is an opportunity to create this wonderful place which is loved and cherished by people like me.
We met some great people and made some great friends at Blank. We (my husband, friends, and myself) are all still heartbroken at the loss of this place. I am excited that Scott landed at 50 West and will continue to contribute to the local community, but damn. Blank Slate was more than just the beer – the struggle is real.
I had friends visiting from out of state and wanted sooner beer for dinner. I called my distributor rep looking for a place to fill a growler of Shroominous. I got a call back to go meet Scott at the brewery. I brought an empty growler and my 4-year-old son intending to get a fill.
Instead, we got a fantastic tour and a case of Shroominous BOTTLES in packaging. I still have the empty bottle holders.
I first met Scott at an event Incline Public House was having, this was 2013. Before cans, before “Pour House” before he had any employees. As you said in your piece, he is very transparent and he doesn’t filter his words. He shared his vision, the idea behind “Blank Slate” and I was instantly a fanboy…
One of my all-time favorites is the pourhouse’s one-year anniversary party that featured so. much. Opera Cream. All the Opera Creams you could ever want.
I started drinking beer around the time the pourhouse opened — back when my palate was new and a bit more picky — and they always had something I liked. Thanks, in part, to Blank Slate, I was able to really develop a taste (and obsession) for local beer and a palate for truly *good* beer.
I started following Scott’s brewing blog pretty soon after he started it, forget how I got linked to it (a random article about a brewer on the east side). While the posts were admittedly over my head sometimes (my brewing knowledge at the time was much more limited and his posts were super detailed), I was absolutely thrilled when he could open the taproom. I’ll always have fond memories of spending many an evening there, volunteering for like 12 hours for the first anniversary, all of the beer I enthusiastically purchased (and shared with out-of-towners!), but most of all, it’s the people. The staff is a phenomenal bunch. Blank Slate will always be my first true brewery love
So Long, and Thanks for All the Beer.
Scott, if you ever read this, I’m sorry. I’m not sure if I could’ve done anything to help, but if I could have, I would have. I truly hope you, your wife, and your child have a fantastic future. I hope we stay in touch as I have fond memories of our conversations and will always hope we have another soon. The next round of beer is on me.
A Selection of Past Posts about Blank Slate